The Metaphysical Rabbit Hole

Some years ago, two or more Norwegian stores sold candy containing the toxic chemical melamine. The candy is manufactured by the Chinese company Guanshengyuan Food Company in Shanghai, and it’s called White Rabbit. I’m not sure if the Chinese company got the White Rabbit from the Jefferson Airplane song or if they got it from the novel ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ written in 1865. The author of the novel was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson that wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.

Photo: EPA/JULIO MUNOZ

Photo: EPA/JULIO MUNOZ

‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ (Alice in Wonderland) has inspired a lot of popular culture: I’ve already mentioned Jefferson Airplane, but also the character Neo, in the movie The Matrix, is encouraged to “follow the white rabbit” in one of the film’s metaphysical awakening scenes. In Carroll’s novel, the white rabbit shows up at the beginning of the story, Alice follows the rabbit down the rabbit hole leading to Wonderland – a wonderland that singer Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, uses as a metaphor about drug affected experiences. Aah, lovely, lovely.

I can’t write about Grace Slick without mentioning the famous story when Grace Slick and Abbie Hoffman planned  to slip the drug LSD into Richard Nixon’s tea.

Here’s the full story, copied from a longer interview with Slick in Time out Chicago.

«Okay, tell me about trying to slip Richard Nixon acid at the White House.
See, Trish Nixon’s daughter went to Finch College, and it was so small that she invited all of the alumni to a tea at the White House. But my name when I went there was Grace Wing, that doesn’t mean anything right? Now, Grace Slick meant something. So I get an invitation to the White House and I call up Abbie Hoffman and say [Sing-songy] “Guess what I have….I’ve got an invitation to the White House.” So I put 600 mics of acid under a long fingernail I had for cocaine, and we go and we’re standing in line, and the security guard comes up to me and says, “I’m sorry you can’t go in. You’re a security risk.” And I go, “What?!” And he says, “You’re on the FBI list.” And I go, “What?!?!” And I found out that the members of Jefferson Airplane were on a list because of “suspect lyrics.” They didn’t know why I was a security threat, but they were right.

See, I learned all about formal teas at Finch College. You have two urns at either end of a long table and you stand—you don’t sit—and since I’m an entertainer, I gesture a lot, and I was gonna gesture across Nixon’s tea and in about a half an hour, he would’ve been out of his mind and nobody would’ve known why. But it didn’t matter because he was so goofy and made mistakes and got his own ass out of the White House. It amazed me that they didn’t say anything to Abbie.» (Source 1).

The Mad Hatter

Another one of my never ending projects:  «The Mad Hatter» Work in Progress - Digital drawing by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com

«The Mad Hatter» Work in Progress – Digital drawing by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com

Above you see another one of my never-ending projects: «The Mad Hatter», a work in progress . This is a digital drawing that I started working on several months ago, but I’ve just forgotten all about it lately.

Mercury poisoning, also known as hydrargyria or mercurialism)

From Wikipedia: “Mad as a hatter” is a colloquial phrase used in conversation to refer to a crazy person. In 18th and 19th century England mercury was used in the production of felt, which was used in the manufacturing of hats common of the time. People who worked in these hat factories were exposed daily to trace amounts of the metal, which accumulated within their bodies over time, causing some workers to develop dementia caused by mercury poisoning (called mad hatter syndrome). Thus, the phrase became popular as a way to refer to someone who was perceived as insane. (Source 2).

Tim Burton made a film version of Alice in Wonderland where Johnny Depp performs as the Hatter in the film. – Burton and Depp have collaborated on six films before and Mr. Depp seems to be tailor-made for the role as The Hatter.  Speaking of Depp (and Jefferson Airplane):  Terry Gilliam made a brilliant film “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas” where Johnny played the role of gonzo journalist Raoul Duke.

In that film Jefferson Airplane contributed to the soundtrack with another one of their famous songs: “Somebody to Love”, but let’s do like Alice did and follow the White Rabbit. Hopefully the following video clip isn’t blocked in your country or removed because of copyright blah, blah (that is one of the major problems when posting YouTube videos in your blog posts):

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Recall Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the doormouse said;
“Feed your head. Feed your head.”

Research & sources:

This post has possibly been a window into an alternative world for you. A world that you’ve never experienced and most likely never will. See more windows here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/photo-challenge-window/ 

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35 thoughts on “The Metaphysical Rabbit Hole

  1. Amazing post!!!
    I Heard the story of Slick some time ago…It is incredible!!! I did not know about the mercurial posissoning…Love your post…And your draw…You should finish it….Or..May be… it is just finished…!!!!!

    • I’ve never tasted them: they are illegal to sell in Norway because of the melamine.

      The standard for acceptable human consumption (Tolerable Daily Intake) of melamine is 0.2 mg per kg of body mass. So I wouldn’t eat them too much and too often if I were you!

      Melamine and its salts are used as fire-retardant additives in paints, plastics, and paper. You can also find it in high-resistance concrete and in polymeric cleaning products.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Window | Cardinal Guzman

  3. Interesting anecdotes…but I was always under the impression that “Mad as a hatter” was derived from mad as a adder..the snake! adder became hatter…thanks for giving this information! 🙂

  4. Oh CG thank you for this wonderful post. I loved it. I have always loved ‘White Rabbit’, but haven’t listened to it in ages. I recently saw Tim Burton’s Alice for the first time, which is surprising as I love both Burton And Depp. What a wonderful film that was…just wonderful.

  5. Alice in Wonderland is a project that I’ve kept in the back of my mind for sometime, even before Tim Burton’s AW film came out. Very complex to piece visually. So I can understand a long process in doing visual project of Alice in Wonderland. And thank you for visiting my latest blog post. I made some changes to WP design and I see you did as well. I like the new WP templates that makes blogs look cleaner and easier to read.. slick and professional. Makes me want to blog more!

  6. I used to love the White Rabbit candies – I don’t think they were always poisonous, just within the last five years or so. Alice in Wonderland was one of my favourite stories when I was little.

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